poem – good old moon

When I was a boy I called the moon a
white plate of jade, sometimes it looked
like a great mirror hanging in the sky,
first came the two legs of the fairy
and the cassia tree, but for whom the rabbit
kept on pounding medical herbs, I
just could not guess. Now the moon is being
swallowed by the toad and the light
flickers out leaving darkness all around;
I hear that when nine of the burning suns out
of the ten were ordered to be shot down by
the Emperor Yao, all has since been quiet
and peaceful both for heaven and man,
but this eating up of the moon is for me
a truly ugly scene filling me with forebodings
wondering what will come out of it.

poem – to his two children

In the land of Wu the mulberry leaves are green,
And thrice the silkworms have gone to sleep.
In East Luh where my family stay,
I wonder who is sowing those fields of ours.
I cannot be back in time for the spring doings,
Yet I can help nothing, traveling on the river.
The south wind blowing wafts my homesick spirit
And carries it up to the front of our familiar tavern.
There I see a peach tree on the east side of the house
With thick leaves and branches waving in the blue mist.
It is the tree I planted before my parting three years ago.
The peach tree has grown now as tall as the tavern roof,
While I have wandered about without returning.
Ping-yang, my pretty daughter, I see you stand
By the peach tree and pluck a flowering branch.
You pluck the flowers, but I am not there
How your tears flow like a stream of water!
My little son, Po-chin, grown up to your sister’s shoulders,
You come out with her under the peach tree,
But who is there to pat you on the back?
When I think of these things, my senses fail,
And a sharp pain cuts my heart every day.
Now I tear off a piece of white silk to write this letter,
And send it to you with my love a long way up the river.

Poem – She Spins Silk

Far up river in Szechuan,
waters rise as spring winds roar.

How can I dare to meet her now,
to brave the dangerous gorge?

The grass grows green in the valley below
where silk worms silently spin.

Her hands work threads that never end,
dawn to dusk when the cuckoo sings.

Poem – The Solitude of Night

t was at a wine party—
I lay in a drowse, knowing it not.
The blown flowers fell and filled my lap.
When I arose, still drunken,
The birds had all gone to their nests,
And there remained but few of my comrades.
I went along the river—alone in the moonlight.

Poem – On Gazing into a Mirror

Follow Tao, and nothing is old or new.
Lose it, and the ruins of age return.

Someone smiling back in the mirror,
hair white as the frost-stained glass,

you admit lament is empty, ask how
reflections get so worn and withered.

How speak of peach and plum: timeless
South Mountain blazes in the end?

Poem – The Old Dust

The living is a passing traveler;
The dead, a man come home.
One brief journey betwixt heaven and earth,
Then, alas! we are the same old dust of ten thousand ages.
The rabbit in the moon pounds the medicine in vain;
Fu-sang, the tree of immortality, has crumbled to kindling wood.
Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word
When the green pines feel the coming of the spring.
Looking back, I sigh; looking before, I sigh again.
What is there to prize in the life’s vaporous glory?

Poem – Bringing in the Wine

See how the Yellow River’s water move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean,never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
… Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand of pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
… To the old master, Tsen,
And the young scholar, Tan-chiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me br forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
… Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we’ll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we’ll drown away the woes of ten thousand generation!

Poem – Hard is the Journey

Gold vessels of fine wines,
thousands a gallon,
Jade dishes of rare meats,
costing more thousands,

I lay my chopsticks down,
no more can banquet,
I draw my sword and stare
wildly about me:

Ice bars my way to cross
the Yellow River,
Snows from dark skies to climb
the T’ai-hang mountains!

At peace I drop a hook
into a brooklet,
At once I’m in a boat
but sailing sunward…

(Hard is the journey,
Hard is the journey,
So many turnings,
And now where am I?)

So when a breeze breaks waves,
bringing fair weather,
I set a cloud for sails,
cross the blue oceans!

Poem – Clearing At Dawn

The fields are chill, the sparse rain has stopped;
The colours of Spring teem on every side.
With leaping fish the blue pond is full;
With singing thrushes the green boughs droop.
The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks;
The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist.
By the bamboo stream the last fragment of cloud
Blown by the wind slowly scatters away.

Poem – Drinking Alone

I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn’t drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life’s joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we’ll meet again in the Milky Way.

Poem – Reaching The Hermitage

At evening I make it down the mountain.

Keeping company with the moon.

Looking back I see the paths I’ve taken

Blue now, blue beneath the skyline.

You greet me, show the hidden track,

Where children pull back hawthorn curtains,

Reveal green bamboo, the secret path,

Vines that touch the traveller’s clothes.

I love finding space to rest,

Clear wine to enjoy with you.

Wind in the pines till voices stop,

Songs till the Ocean of Heaven pales.

I get drunk and you are happy,

Both of us pleased to forget the world. 

Poem – The Roosting Crows

On Soochow’s terrace the crows find their nests.
The King of Wu in his palace drinks with Hsi Shih.

Songs of Wu, Dances of Chu quicken their pleasure

One half of the sun is caught in the valley’s throat.
The clock’s silver arrow marks the passing hours.

They rise early to see the autumn moon,

Watch it sink down into deep river.

Daylight glows in the East. Dawn renews their joy. 

Poem – Old Poem

Did Chuang Chou dream he was the butterfly?
Or the butterfly dream he was Chuang Chou?
In the single body’s transformations
See the vortex of the Myriad Creatures.
No mystery then that the Magic Seas
Shrank again to crystal streams,
Or down by Ch’ang-an’s Green Gate
The gardener was Marquis of Tung-Ling.
If this is the fate of fame and power,
What is it for- this endless striving?